Diagnosing Dog Digestion Problems

Dogs can suffer from digestion problems just as human beings can. Most dogs have the occasional bout of vomiting and diarrhea and this is usually not a cause for concern. However, if your pet vomits or suffers from diarrhea on a regular basis, you need to seek medical help to correctly diagnose and treat the problem.

Symptoms of Canine Digestive Problems

Causes of Digestive Problems in Dogs

Digestive problems in dogs can be caused by a virus that leads to intestinal blockage, the ingestion of a foreign object, ingestion of foods that are likely to cause flatulence or cancer. If a dog eats something that can harm his body, the dog will vomit and eject such a substance. For instance theobromine present in chocolates is a toxin that can adversely affect the dog’s nervous and cardiovascular system. The body identifies this toxin and the pet vomits after being fed chocolate. Similarly, all substances that are toxic to dogs cause vomiting and diarrhea. Besides this, digestive problems can also occur due to overeating.

Diagnosis of Canine Digestive Problems

The vet will conduct a physical examination, evaluate the dog’s medical history and run blood, urine and stool tests to determine the cause of the digestive problem.

Stool Tests

A fresh stool sample can be tested for the presence of bacterial or viral infection. Bacterial infections are caused by bacteria such as salmonella and clostridium perfringens. Conversely, viral infections are indicated by black colored stools that are foul-smelling and are caused by the parvovirus. Digestive problems can be also be caused by the presence of parasites like Coccidiosis and Giardia.

Blood Tests and X-Ray

Blood tests can check the liver and pancreatic enzymes, blood sugar levels and signs of kidney disease or failure while X-rays help to check the presence of a foreign body swallowed by the dog, a blockage in the digestive tract or the presence of stomach or intestinal tumors.

Ultrasound Test

An ultrasound test is often carried out to determine if there is any inflammation of the pancreas or the liver. Such a test also helps identify cysts or abnormal growths in the kidneys, liver, bladder or spleen. It can also detect cancer of the liver or the presence of gall stones.


The veterinarian may also perform an endoscopy to identify the cause of the digestive problem. The dog is anesthetized before a small video camera is passed through his mouth into his digestive tract. This tiny camera films all the way and tests cells from areas that appear different from neighboring areas. The endoscope is a tool that can also perform a biopsy and take out cells that can later be examined by the vet. Endoscopy is a very effective way to diagnose a digestive problem as it’s a minimally invasive procedure and decreases recovery time, pain and the risk of infection.

The treatment depends on the diagnosis of the problem and it’s essential that you adhere to the treatment in order to successfully cure your pet of the problem. In addition, you should ensure that your pet is fed a nutritious diet, has plenty of water and exercise, is not exposed to chemicals, p reservatives and other toxins and is checked by the vet at regular intervals so that he continues to enjoy optimum health.